Connecticut divorce details
Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Connecticut
A contested divorce means there is a trial as the final procedure of the divorce proceeding. Both parties must appear before the court, and the judge makes a decision about the terms of their separation. Also, the contested divorce process implies the numerous additional court hearings are required before the final trial. Contested divorce makes sense when the spouses cannot settle the terms of their case themselves. Sometimes it means that each of them wants to get too much, and is ready to give much less. But also there are difficult cases when you really should contest a case for your own safety and well-being.
An uncontested divorce is popular for its simplicity and short time needed. During an uncontested divorce, your schedule is not so strict, you must attend the only one (the final) hearing. You should agree with your ex-partner about money and children to file for uncontested divorce without any negative effect.
Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut
An uncontested dissolution of marriage is easier, quicker and, therefore, cheaper way to terminate your marriage, than a contested divorce.
To file for an uncontested divorce in Connecticut both spouses should intent to get a divorce. They have to cooperate to make a Settlement agreement, which provides the court with the terms of their case and all the details related to property and children.
Filing for uncontested divorce you probably should point the no-fault ground. That means that you don’t blame your spouse for the breakup and therefore don’t need to contest your case.
Grounds for Divorce in Connecticut
Though uncontested divorces are more common in Connecticut, officially, the state law recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce.
- No-fault grounds
There are two no-faults grounds for dissolution:
- irretrievable breakdown of the marriage;
- living apart for at least 18 months before filing for divorce.
These grounds are so popular, because a no-fault divorce is rather cheap and quickly, and requires much less time spent in court.
- Fault grounds:
- fraudulent contract
- abandonment for at least 12 months
- at least 7 years of absence from the marriage, without any communication
- alcohol or drug addiction
- one spouse is mentally ill and legally confined to a mental institution for a minimum of 5 years within the past 6 years.
To file for a fault-based divorce the filing spouse must prove the partner’s misconduct to the court by giving some convincing evidence.
Connecticut Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
According to the Connecticut General Statutes, the couple can be granted a divorce in Connecticut if:
- at least one of the spouses is a resident of Connecticut for at least 12 months;
- one of the spouses was domiciled in the state at the time of the marriage and returned there with the purpose of permanently remaining before the filing for divorce;
- the cause for the divorce arose after either party moved to Connecticut.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Connecticut?
Typically, you should file for an uncontested divorce in the Superior Court of the county where you live in, but In case neither you nor your spouse request a spousal support you can file in any Connecticut county. There are 4 steps you have to make:
- File the "Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage" and "the Summons". The Summons form is needed to notify your spouse about the divorce action. You should make copies of these documents.
- Serve your spouse with the paperwork (the copies). They must be served at least 12 days before the so-called Return date, according to the terms contained in Summons. The Return date gives a start to the 90-days waiting period, that means that even if the spouses are agreed on all issues the divorce cannot be granted earlier.
- Your spouse must file an Answer to Complaint, and you can use 90 days of this “cooling-off’ period to make a detailed Settlement Agreement.
- Attend the court hearing (in some cases, your spouse may be invited too). During the final hearing, the judge must make sure that you both accept all the terms included in your Agreement. Finally, the judge can enter a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. The divorce is granted.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Connecticut
The state of Connecticut not only allows but encourages people to arrange their divorce cases by themselves if the case is uncontested and simple enough. The Connecticut Judicial Branch released a detail instruction called “Do It Yourself Divorce Guide” for those who have time and desire to understand the process independently.
It is quite useful and informative, but thinking of the DIY divorce option, don’t forget about the main part of its successful result. You should have a friendly relationship with your ex-partner, what means that it must be possible to negotiate politely and constructively, discussing the property division or child-related issues.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
The initial cost for uncontested divorce without an attorney is equal to the cost of the simplest case with any additional fees. In Connecticut, it includes the court Filing fee (about $350) and Marshal’s fee to serve your spouse with the documents (ranging $50 - $75). If you have children you may have to pay another $125 for the Parenting education class (usually required by the court).
To compare, an average Connecticut contested case may cost about $20 000.
How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Connecticut?
Every divorce case is different, and even uncontested divorce can be rather time-consuming. The time taken for your divorce depends on lots of individual conditions. An average length of Connecticut uncontested divorce is about 120 days, taking into account the 90 days of “cooling-off” period. It can take less time if there is already a total agreement about all issues before filing a Petition.
Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Connecticut
- Divorce Complaint (JD-FM-159)
The main form that includes your request for divorce.
- Summons Family Actions (JD-FM-3)
Is needed to tell your spouse about the divorce proceeding and when to come to court.
- Notice of Automatic Court Orders (JD-FM-158)
It tells your spouse about some orders that are automatic in every divorce case. It prevents the spouses from any decisions that can negatively affect the marital property or children.
- Affidavit Concerning Children (JD-FM-164)
This form is needed if you have children, it contains the necessary information about them.
- Case Management Agreement/Order (JD-FM-163)
In this form you should point your divorce date (the day when you must attend the court)
- Financial Affidavit (JD-FM-6)
You must provide information about your assets, income, debt and other financial details with this form.
- Dissolution Agreement (JD-FM-172)
An extremely significant form for an uncontested case. It includes the spouses’ clear and detailed agreement about the terms of divorce and future life (children-related issues, property division and so on).
- Child Support Guideline Worksheet (CCSG -1)
This worksheet is needed to calculate an amount of child support.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Connecticut
So, after filing a Petition (Complaint) and the Summons, you must deliver the copies of these papers to your former spouse. Notice, that you are not allowed to do it face to face. If your spouse lives in Connecticut you must use a State Marshal’s service and pay the fee. You can get a list of State Marshals in the Clerk’s office.
If your spouse lives in some other state you should send the paperwork via certified or registered mail. The third option is to hire the private process server in your spouse’s domicile.
Online Divorce in Connecticut
There is no opportunity to file for divorce online in Connecticut, but you still can save some of your time with the help of our service.
If you are not sure what forms and documents you need for your particular case but you don’t have any desire to learn all the details of Connecticut family law just ask for our help.
After a short online-interview, we can provide you with the packet of needed forms, which are customized according to your information and all the nuances of a case. The forms are ready to sign, and if you wish we can review them one more time. Also, our qualified specialists offer an online-support to answer all yours or your partner’s questions.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Connecticut
In Connecticut, an amount of child support given to the custodial parent from the other is based on Connecticut Child Support and Arrearage Guidelines. To request a child support you should review the guidelines and complete a special Worksheet - Form CCSG-1.
The child support is calculated considering the parents’ combined net income - gross income minus allowable deductions. The calculation and the Worksheet itself are rather complicated, you should be ready you may need some help to understand and complete it correctly.
As for child custody, under the Connecticut family law, the Legal and the Physical custody can be distinguished.
- Legal Custody
Connecticut courts, typically, welcome the joint legal custody and encourage the parents to share it. The joint legal custody gives each parent a decision-making power in the questions of the upbringing. It means that even if the physical custody is held by the one parent, this custodial parent has to consult with the ex about important changes in the child’s life related to education, healthcare, traveling, and many others.
- Physical custody
The one who turns out to be physical custodian is the one with whom the child is left to live, and the other parent is granted with visitation rights. Such a situation is called “Sole physical custody”.
The Joint physical custody is possible as well. It is not necessary for the child to live in two residences at the same time because if the child spends a lot of time with each parent (not necessarily 50/50, but smth about that) the situation is also can be considered as a Joint custody. Both parents have an equal responsibility for the child’s welfare.
Of course, if one of the parents is abusive, and his/her presence in the child’s life can be harmful the court will grant a sole custody (both legal and physical) to the one caring parent. The child’s wishes are taken into account, but not automatically fulfilled by the court.
Rules for Spousal Support in Connecticut
Connecticut family law implies that both spouses should have a right to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Connecticut spouses believe so too, so the theme of Alimony is significant in the majority of divorce cases.
As it is impossible, or at least very difficult, to calculate an appropriate “standard of living”, the negotiation process plays a great role. You can contact a lawyer or mediator, or just frankly and openly discuss this issue with your spouse. Anyway, you should know what are the factors the judge will consider making a decision about the spousal support.
Here they are:
- length of the marriage;
- ground for divorce;
- age, health and possible specific needs of the spouses;
- professional skills & experience, earning capacity;
- income of each spouse;
- the property and any real estate.
Notice! The spousal support and its amount is not something permanent, established once and for all. If some circumstances which caused the certain type and amount of alimony changed, therefore you can file a Motion for modification.
Division of Property in Connecticut
Connecticut belongs to equitable distribution states, so all the marital property is divided in a just and reasonable way, but it doesn't mean “equally”. It can be divided both by the Judgment of Divorce if the spouses can agree about it, and by the Superior Court order if the issue cannot be resolved independently.
Generally, while dividing the property the court has to consider the same aspects as in the case of assigning the spousal support. And the contribution of each spouse to the general welfare also matters.
Only the marital property is subject to division. The separate property remains to be kept by the original owner.
- Marital property.
All the property acquired during the marriage, all the separate property that is mixed in some ways with the marital property, and gifts & inheritances which are used by the family.
- Separate property.
Everything acquired prior to marriage, personal gifts & inheritances of each spouse.
Division of Debt in Connecticut
In Connecticut, all the debts are divided under the same ruled as the property.
Your personal premarital debts remain your own responsibility, but some joint tax returns or loans, if any, should be divided in an equitable way.
In addition to all the factors are considered by the judge, the purpose of the debt and participation of each spouse in debt creating has a great influence on the result of the division.
Divorce Mediation in Connecticut
Mediation can be called an alternative to the court trial, but it has more of the therapy than from the litigation. Mediation is needed to reach an agreement with your spouse, so it is particularly important in uncontested divorce case. The spouses should work as a team during the mediation session. Guided by the neutral and qualified mediator they learn how to resolve all the important issues of their case - from the division of estate to deciding the joint custody of their children and so on.
In Connecticut, if a mediator is a lawyer by profession he/she is allowed to help with the documents’ filing. Though he/she still cannot present any of the spouses in the court, in some special situation the mediator can give an advice about how to break an impasse if both spouses ask of it.
How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Connecticut
If you are willing to get a divorce you must serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork. Obviously, you should be in touch to arrange it. But if you have no idea where your partner is, you still have an opportunity to finalize your case with an option called a Divorce By Publication.
To file for divorce by publication you must prove the court that you worked really hard to find a missing spouse with an Affidavit of Diligent Search. If the court accepts it, you should file the following forms - a Motion for First Order of Notice (JD-CL-44), and an Order of Notice (JD-CL-38). Once these papers are approved, you can publish the court order in the local newspaper of the area your spouse is probably resides. The notification must be published once a week for 2 weeks.
If the missing partner still doesn’t try to contact you or with the court you have to file another form - a Motion to Dispense with Further Notice. When it is approved by the court the divorce by default is granted.
Notice! The court cannot govern alimony, child support, and property division issues in the case of divorce by publication.
Default Divorce in Connecticut
To understand what is a default divorce in Connecticut, first consider the concept of "return date." Return date is a legal term for the day when the waiting period for a divorce gets started. At the same time, it is the stipulated date when the Respondent (non-filing spouse) should file an answer to the Petition (an Appearance form).
In Connecticut, the return day is Tuesday, so filing the Petition you should point the Tuesday (in a period of about 4 weeks out) to serve the spouse.
Then, the Respondent must file and submit the paperwork on before the 2 day after the return date, if he/she don’t want some temporary decisions about child and spousal support were entered without his/her participation.
The default divorce can be granted after 90 days of the Respondent’s silence. Default divorce means that the final hearing can be arranged without the second spouse, and only the Petitioner’s terms of the divorce are granted by the court.
Annulment of the Marriage in Connecticut
Annulment of the marriage is declaring a marriage as void and initially illegal. But unlike most other states, in Connecticut, the children of such a marriage are still considered as legitimate, and all the issues of support and custody can be entered by the court. The same thing is a property division. Connecticut courts welcome the fair division of “marital” property & debts even in the case of a void marriage.
In Connecticut, you can file a “Complaint for annulment” referring on following grounds:
- incest, consanguinity, marriage with a stepchild/stepparent;
- mental incapacity at the time when the marriage was registered;
- the wedding ceremony was held by a person who didn’t have official authority;
- the couple didn’t submit the required blood testing;
- fraud marriage (consent to the marriage was obtained by force or deceit);
- a health problem that can affect the marriage but was hidden from the spouse on purpose.
Legal Separation in Connecticut
Legal separation is recognized by Connecticut jurisdiction. This decree has the similar effect as a divorce, but officially, the spouses remain married and are not allowed to remarry other people.
What the point of the legal separation? There some financial benefits of this option. So, the tax, estate, and insurance consequences may differ from those of a divorce. Also, couples who were married more than 10 years can receive Social Security benefits based on the ex-partner's income.
In addition, if you finally want to get a divorce after the legal separation the procedure is very simple, and doesn't demand any participation of your spouse.
Same-Sex Divorce in Connecticut
Connecticut is rather modern and liberal state, and the same-sex marriages are recognized here since 2008, seven years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmation.
So, the same-sex divorce has the same history in Connecticut.
Nowadays, all the married couples in the USA are granted the equal rights on how to terminate their marriage according to their states’ laws.
The main unsolved problem concerned with the same-gender marriage in Connecticut is whether the marriage should be measured from the start of a legal marriage or from the start of a relationship.
Since many homosexual couples have lived together making important decisions and investing in the common welfare long before the official registration of the marriage (as they hadn’t any legal possibility to register it), it is can be difficult to solve alimony issues now.
Military Divorce in Connecticut
In Connecticut, like in other states, all the military members are protected from the default divorce decree by the federal law and The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act. If one of the spouses is on active duty, so cannot be served with the divorce paperwork, the divorce proceeding may be postponed. Also, an additional 60 days are given to the military spouse after returning, to have enough time to file and submit an answer to the divorce Petition.
As for alimony and child support, there is a rule that these payments from the military member cannot be more than 60% of his or her wage. Typically, the other rules for a civil divorce are relevant for a military divorce case too.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Connecticut
Though the felony conviction is one of the fault grounds for divorce, you have not to file for a fault divorce with your incarcerated spouse if you want the case to be uncontested, or if the terms of the incarceration don't meet the fault-divorce requirements.
Generally, the process is the same as for regular divorce case. You must file a Petition and then to serve your spouse with the divorce documents. Surely, you should know the facility address.
Your ex will be served and taken to court, or, otherwise, the default divorce can be granted.
Connecticut Divorce Filing Fee
A filing fee is a compulsory payment for the court service. It is charged when you are filing the Divorce Complaint. The filing fee may vary by county but it is usually about $350 in Connecticut.
In addition, you may have to pay the State Marshal fee which is charged for delivering the divorce paperwork to your spouse. The Marshal’s fee is between $50 and $75.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
The answer is yes. If you cannot afford to pay the court fees, you can ask the court to pay for it. Both the filing fee and the Marshal’s fee can be waived, you just must fill out the Application for Waiver of Fees (Form JD-FM-75). This form is to prove the court that your income is extremely low, and you cannot support yourself in this proceeding.
How We Can Help
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